The Best Last-Minute Gift Ever

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Foolanthropy 2006 Donations
Charity Amt. Raised
Co-op America $169,425
NFTE $91,341
Rare Conservation $30,047
Room to Read $25,266
Half the Sky $21,350
TOTAL $337,429
As of January 9, 2007
Foolanthropy 2006
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By Robert Brokamp
December 20, 2006

Perhaps you didn't get around to shopping for everyone on your list. Or maybe you just received a present from someone, and you feel the need to reciprocate (fast!). Or maybe you're still struggling to find the right gift for the person who has everything.

Whatever the reason, you need a gift -- but time is running out.

It's too late to buy something off eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) or (Nasdaq: AMZN) without forking over a chunk of change to get expedited shipping from UPS (NYSE: UPS) or FedEx (NYSE: FDX) -- and even that might not be possible.

So what's a thoughtful Fool to do?

Give a gift that will have long-lasting and life-changing value. Give the gift of education, memories, and even parents. Give a gift -- on behalf of a friend or loved one -- to Half the Sky, an organization that provides nurturing care and enrichment programs for thousands of orphaned children across China.

OK, so opening up a piece of paper that explains your gift donation isn't as exciting as unwrapping a Nintendo Wii or Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPod. But before you run out to buy your aunt a last-minute knickknack, consider whether she wouldn't appreciate knowing her gift contributed to the salary and training of a nanny who cares for a baby who would otherwise spend most of her day in a crib.

That's just one example of the work Half the Sky does, and just one of the reasons Half the Sky was chosen as one of the world-changing organizations for this year's Foolanthropy campaign. Half the Sky operates four programs for orphaned children in 30 centers throughout China:

  • Half the Sky's Baby Sisters Program provides trained nannies who cuddle, sing, and play with their small charges, helping them avoid the problems that are so common in institutionalized children who have been fed and clothed, but not cherished.
  • Half the Sky's Little Sisters Program offers preschools designed not only to prepare children to succeed in primary school, but also to help develop the "whole child," to help each young learner attain the positive sense of self so often missing in institutionalized children.
  • Half the Sky's Big Sisters Program provides older children growing up in orphanages with individualized learning opportunities, according to their own interests, talents, and aspirations. Without that help these older children often simply give up on themselves.
  • Half the Sky's Family Village Program provides loving, permanent families for children whose medical and developmental challenges preclude them from finding adoptive families. Instead of facing the probability that they will spend their entire childhood in orphanages, the children live in HTS Family Villages with loving parents who have pledged to take care of the children all the way to adulthood.

To see Half the Sky at work, watch this short video.

Your gift donation could support the work of your choice. For example, a $50 Good Time Gift Certificate could pay for outings, adventures, and special projects at one of the orphanages. A $75 one-month Big Sister Sponsorship helps provide tutoring and enrichment for older children living in institutions. A gift of $600 will sponsor a nanny for a year. And, if you're feeling really generous, a $3,500 gift of "Memories for a Little Sister" could pay for the video and photography equipment necessary to document the children's developmental milestones, conversations, and adventures. As explained on the Half the Sky website, "All of this goes into individual memory books or progress reports or fills the walls of our Children's Centers. The children, most of whom don't know where they came from, soon are surrounded by a living history and a sense of their own place in time."

Could you think of a better gift?

To learn more about Half the Sky, including how to donate, visit its Foolanthropy page.

Robert Brokamp and his wife, Elizabeth, adopted 10-month-old GaoAn Qiong from an orphanage renovated by Half the Sky. You can read about their experience in this article. Amazon, FedEx, and eBay are Stock Advisor selections. The Fool has a disclosure policy.